State and Trends of Australia's oceans Report Task Team

Background and Rationale

Marine  assessments  are  an  important  tool  for collating,  synthesising  and  reporting  meaningful indicators of ecosystem health to a broad, and often non-scientific audience. They are effective and repeatable reporting tools for examining the state  and trends of marine systems, at many scales, including  regionally (e.g., GBR Outlook  Report), nationally (e.g., State  of  the  Environment)  and internationally (e.g., World Ocean Assessment). The most robust assessments  are data-driven, and typically underpinned by time series of globally accepted  ecosystem indicators, such as the Global Ocean Observing System Essential Ocean Variables.

In the Australian context, the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) is uniquely positioned to provide data on key physical, chemical and biological variables on both regional and national scales. The  opportunity  here  is to  value-add  to  the  information collected  by IMOS  – and  other  ocean observing programs in Australia – by translating data into time series of ecosystem indicators that describe the state  and trends  of our pelagic environment.  The target  audience for the assessment report is policy makers, marine managers, and fellow scientists. This Task Team has a very deliberate intent not to replicate existing mature reporting programs by being explicit about what is in, and what is out of scope.

The Task Team model will:

  • ensure a consultative and inclusive approach to the scope and content of the Assessment Report, guided by the independant steering committee.
  • allow the Assessment Report to be developed in a realistic time-frame by supporting two face-to face workshops with contributors to the report, “off-line” work, and virtual meetings as required to address specific issues/
  • harness support and expertise from IMOS in science communication, marine and environmental policy, and use and impact.
  • establish a template for subsequent  reports that deliver information and synthesis of trends and marine ecosystem responses, focusing on the pelagic environment.
  • aim to support evidence-based decision making on issues of national significance, across the IMOS major research themes.
  • help make IMOS and other Australian research and operational ocean data more discoverable through the AODN.